At a glance, it might seem like your mouth and your heart shouldn’t have anything to do with each other. However, the different parts of the body are linked in various ways; a problem in one area can lead to issues in another, even if it isn’t obvious. And thanks to recent research, we know that your oral health can have an impact on your heart health, particularly when it comes to gum disease.


What Is the Link Between Oral Health and Heart Health?

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people who are suffering from gum disease have nearly twice the risk for heart disease. This is likely due to the bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease. When these bacteria enter your bloodstream, they can lead to inflammation and damage in your blood vessels. As a result, you’ll be more likely to suffer from clogged arteries and strokes.

Oral bacteria entering your bloodstream may also lead to infective endocarditis, which is an infection in the lining of the heart. This condition is very rare, but it can affect your valves and heart muscles, thus putting your life at risk.


What Can You Do If You Have Gum Disease?

Taking care of your mouth can help you minimize your risk of heart problems. One of the most important steps you can take is to have gum disease treated as quickly as possible. You may be suffering from gum disease if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Gums that are red or swollen
  • Bleeding that frequently occurs when you brush or floss
  • Pain that occurs while chewing
  • Receding gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth

You may not necessarily notice all of these symptoms. In fact, in many cases your dentist will be the first one to notice signs of gum disease or other oral health problems; that’s part of the reason why you should schedule at least two checkups a year.

To treat gum disease, your dentist might need to perform a deep cleaning that consists of two steps: scaling and root planing. During the scaling step, harmful bacteria are removed from the gums. In many cases, this can be done with an ultrasonic cleaner that breaks up plaque and tartar deposits. The second step, root planing, involves smoothing out the roots of the teeth. Doing so lowers the chances of plaque accumulating in the future.


How Will You Know If You Have Heart Problems?

Even if you take proper care of your gums, you should still know the potential warning signs of heart disease so that you can act quickly to have it addressed. Chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, unexpected fatigue, lightheadedness, and sudden confusion can all indicate that there’s something wrong with your heart. Call your doctor if you have concerns about your heart health; they’ll let you know what steps need to be taken to make a proper diagnosis.

In short, when it comes to both oral health and heart health, it’s always best to take the initiative. As soon as you think you might be suffering from gum disease or that your heart might be at risk, you should consult with a professional. Doing so could help you protect your smile as well as the rest of your body.